Sunday 20 December 2020

These bleak December days

In spite of having oodles of time, way more than I ever dreamed possible before retirement, I feel as if I've been frittering it away lately. The surge of energy I started with back in Spring has dwindled to the odd short burst of activity before indolence sets in again. 

Covid-19 restrictions and lack of daylight are a lethal combination forcing one into semi-hibernation. 

The garden is hibernating too. One by one the plants which gave us so much pleasure in the Summer months are calling it a day. The last of the leaves have been swept up, Spring bulbs have been planted, and all we can do now is wait. 

Now, more than ever, life is a waiting game at this time of year. Waiting for time to pass, for the days to get longer again, and for the weather gods to magic away the rain clouds even if only for a day.

Two weeks ago on Saturday was such a day. For most of the morning, the sky was a blanket of grey and with a goose-bumpy 6°C, it initially didn't look too inviting. However, after having been cooped up inside the house for most of the week, we were thankful for the small mercy that at least it looked set to remain dry.

I dressed warmly to combat the chill, wearing a fur collared and cuffed Tweed jacket for which the cold was no match. The jacket is part of a suit, last worn in its entirety back in January. Found at Think Twice, it has been gracing my wardrobe for many a year. My green beret was a Think Twice find too, while the riotously coloured woollen scarf was picked up in a charity shop.

We opted for a short stroll rather than a longer walk, our destination of choice being the municipal park of the nearby town of Boom, a mere 15 minutes drive from Dove Cottage.

And look what greeted us when we stepped out of the car! The patches of blue between the fluffy white clouds gladdened our hearts. Silhouetted against the winter-blue sky the skeleton trees seemed to wiggle their twiglets in greeting and beckon us in. 

A veritable sight for sore eyes awaited us when we entered the park, where we were delighted to see that there was plenty of water in the once silted up brook leading towards the series of ponds at the far end of the park. We'd often felt sorry for the park's paddling of ducks (how delightful is that collective noun!) who had to make do with the odd muddy and foul smelling puddle.

Rather than following the course of the brook as we usually do, we opted for the path skirting the edge of the park, which in spite of having visited many times before was unknown territory for us.

Just before the path met another entrance from the main road, we turned left, making our way towards the park's heart again, passing a tavern which was closed for obvious reasons, its adjacent playground looking quite forlorn, but presided over by a gentle, mustachioed giant.

We realized we'd never been here this time of year before, and where in Summer the park's surrounding streets are hidden behind thickets of green, there was now no pretending that we were in the middle of a forest.

Looking for a sheltered spot for outfit photos, we left the path to walk among the layer of Autumn leaves. At some point, we must have disturbed a squirrel, who promptly scuttled away and, quick-as-lightning, disappeared out of sight into one of the trees.

Try as we might, we could not locate it, but I bet it was snickering up there behind the curtain of russet leaves in the fork of that tree.

The pinkish-red skirt I was wearing, in a deliciously warm and stroke-able blend of polyester and mohair, was joined by a black, rose patterned King Louie jumper which came to me by way of a charity shop.

I wore it over my skirt, adding a fabric belt belonging to a vintage dress I haven't worn in ages. For extra warmth, a dark, greyish green fluffy cardigan - another charity shop find - was worn on top. The black floral necklace was picked up at an outdoor flea market several Summers ago.

The next day, Sunday, was a very bleak and inclement day, the mercury halting at a mere 3°C.

We only briefly hopped outside for outfit photos after lunch, just long enough to show you the vintage C&A dress I was wearing that day. Another wool enriched polyester blend, the dress had been about to be put into the sell-or-give-away boxes when I decided to give it another chance.

For some reason, I thought its sage green colour would be too bland on me, but what I saw in the mirror seemed to prove me wrong. 

I accessorized the dress with a shiny vinyl, caramel coloured belt, my favourite multi-coloured beaded necklace and a brooch featuring a twinkling, amber coloured rhinestone in a nest of gold wire.

Too chilly to go it alone out in the garden, I wore a caramel beret and threw on a sleeveless "faux sheep" vest, a cheeky high street buy back in November 2017.

My memory is another blank where it concerns that day, but luckily my journal tells me I hadn't been completely idle.

Fed up with the faded buttons on my green Mango cardigan, I replaced them with these cute vintage ones from my stash. There, better!

Once again skipping Monday's office day, we have now arrived at Tuesday 8 December. 

With the temperature still in the low single figures, I thought it was time for the final stage of my wardrobe switch, exchanging the two sides of the coat wardrobe, so that now all my Winter coats are on the left, most easily accessible, side. 

I unearthed this plaid wool jacket which frankly speaking I'd forgotten all about.  Bought in a vintage shop opposite my hairdresser's, it's graced with a soft furry collar and cleverly disguised side pockets.
As you can see, I wasted no time in wearing it, accompanied by a burgundy belt, caramel beret and brown speckled scarf.

The pleated skirt with its abundance of flowers interrupted by rows of berries and Paisley joined my wardrobe in October 2019, when it was part of a € 4 a piece Think Twice haul.

Both the teal jumper and the necklace with its mix of wooden and ceramic beads were retail buys from eons ago. The burgundy leather belt was charity shopped while, if I remember correctly, the enamelled iris brooch was once upon a time picked up at our favourite and sorely missed indoor flea market

I'd been a good girl that day, vacuuming and dusting the sitting room, hallway and dining room. My reward was our first post-lockdown 2.0 visit to a charity shop.

We chose our most local one for the honour and, while I masked up and went in first, Jos followed me a couple of minutes later, as shopping is still restricted to a solo activity here in Belgium. We are also supposed not to indulge in any fun-shopping and to only stay inside a shop for a maximum of 30 minutes. Well, what's the point of going charity shopping if you can't have fun? Lately, it feels as if there's a rule against having fun and you're actually being made to feel ever so slightly guilty if you do!

Well, I did have fun, so there, and what's more, the charity shop goddesses looked down on me favourably as well!

I found two blouses (top and bottom left), a chunky knit cardigan (top right) and a Tweed skirt (bottom right), as well as a funky necklace, which you can see on top of the pile in the photo above the collage. 

You'll get to see it all in detail in my next posts, as everything except for the skirt has been worn already.

I also managed to grab a vintage dress from the rails, in a purplish blue printed with a confetti of tiny pink flowers. Its cute label shows a bird - a finch in all probability - and the name Ein Fink Modell, and although I couldn't find any information on it, I can tell with certainty is that its origins lie in a German speaking country.

The sizing seems to be a bit off, as I'm usually a size 40 or thereabouts, and this size 36 is a tiny bit generous on me! You'll see me wearing it shortly!

I'm finishing this post with a little forward leap to Wednesday 16 December, when the postman rang our doorbell bearing a parcel of joy all the way from Spain.

I simply cannot wait for the weather to get colder again so that I can wear this gorgeous scarf and beret combo crocheted by the lovely Monica! Thank you again for thinking of me!

And now, it is time to say goodbye once more. Do stay safe, my dears!


  1. Life does feel a bit like waiting game right now. Waiting for the restrictions to lift, for the vaccine to arrive and for life to return to normal... but well what can we do?
    I love the first outfit you're wearing, that's a very fabulous way to dress for a stroll.
    You prove that one can dress warmly and still be very stylish. That tweed jacket is fantastic and I like the skirt and the boots. The scarf and the green beret make for great accessories as well. I also love your sage green dress- so pretty...and the pinkish red skirt is beautiful as well. The pleated floral skirt is phenomenal and I like how you wore it contrasting the print with the jacket. So many wonderful outfits. I'm happy to see you had some fun shopping at the charity shop too. The blouses you found are so lovely, I bet you cannot wait to wear them. The knitted yellow scarf and the beret Monica made for you are such beautiful items as well.

    1. Thank you Ivana! Indeed, what can we do but wait? At least we can have fun dressing up while doing so! xxx

  2. These are all such beautiful outfits.
    I'm seriously lacking motivation to do much beyond laundry and the odd pass with the vacuum. Winter is hard, covid or not. I'm glad to hear you were able to visit a charity shop-you came home with some great items.
    Isn't Monica brilliant?
    Do take care.

    1. Thank you, Goody! I agree, even basic housework is an effort. And yes, Monica is utterly brilliant! xxx

  3. We've never known hibernation like this; the pandemic really slowed down life. I have big respect for industrious folks like you who've continued blogging despite it.

    1. Thank you Ally! In fact, blogging is keeping me more or less sane! xxx

  4. :-)It's the dark times. I can see why a yellow scarf and hat put a smile on your face. :-)

    The middle ages it seems.

    We didn't obey and believe "the pope", who is always right and knows everything. We didn't follow the rules, and now we are punished with a new virus.

    You better believe or get killed (by the virus, they say) or the pope and his executioners. It's like Kopernikus who was affraid of publishing his studies until he was about to die anyway.

    You see, I'm in need of a yellow parcel myself. :-(

    All the best!


    1. Yellow makes everything better :-) Well, perhaps not everything ... xxx

  5. Ah, your outfits bring me joy! I love the colours and combinations. I definitely think you should have got rid of that blue wool C&A dress by sending it to me ;-)
    The new items are so pretty! I would be enamoured as well.
    Your walk looked gteat- I like the BFG!

    1. Thank you Kezzie, and I'm glad to hear my outfits bring you joy! I'll keep you in mind if I should tire of that dress! xxx

  6. What a lovely present! Did you deserve that because of the cleaning? Lol. I love your tweed suit, said it before, and now you found again a tweed skirt! Fantastic. Looking forward to see you wearing it. Love the top new blouse too. If last week was all depressing, this week even more. Raining all the time, dark, and no Christmas feeling at all. But still looking forward to the festivities, even if it is just the 2 of us. We always have a good time anyway.

    1. It would be a great incentive to do the cleaning :-) I already wore both blouses in the meantime! xxx

  7. The yellow scarf and beret will add some much needed winter cheer.
    I know what you mean about having fun, it does seem to be draining away. You may well have heard that we have another tier of awful here and a new strain of covid to go with it. Bring on the vaccine, the sooner the better.
    Despite everything you have written a very uplifting post, the lovely photos from your nature walk complete with Green man carving and all those bright and fab outfits. I needed a big of cheer today and it's done me good!
    Stay safe. xxx

    1. I'm glad to have supplied you with an uplifting post. I do try to end on a positive note in spite of it all! It seems to be getting from bad to worse over there, it just seems never-ending, doesn't it? xxx

  8. Firstly, let's speak of outfits!, I love your tweed jacket and love your deliciously warm skirt, and how your accessories enhance its colour! (so cute scarf!)
    Love your vintage C&A dress and no wonder these are your fav beads, as they're so fabulous!. You look really cosy and stylish in this waistcoat!
    And I love your floral skirt and plaid jacket ensemble, and love the teal, burgundy and caramel colours all together, and those ceramic beads and delightful enamel brooch!
    Glad you could have some fun and enjoy some charity shopping, and so fab that you found such cool pieces!.
    Last but no least, I'm really happy that you liked my parcel, and hope that the beret fits you nicely!. As you can see, the crochet flower can be worn as a brooch too! ;DDD. Love that you received my postcard in time! before solstice! (I drew my christmas cards before having my wrist pain, luckily!)
    Sending you hugs and sunshine!

    1. Thank you so much Monica! Sometimes even charity shopping is too much of a strain, but it's all worth it if I find something fabulous! I've put your card on my blogging friends ribbon, which is right next to where I'm sitting to write my posts! xxx

  9. How lovely are your gifted beret and scarf and such a sunshiny colour!

    It certainly has been cold where you are but our temperatures have been climbing which feels strange but gratefully received!

    I loved your outfits and didn't you do well in your charity shop rummage?

    I agree about having fun; it seems almost like a dirty word in these horrible lock down times once again.

    Hope your weather has warmed up and that you're still having fun...

    Take care and stay safe,

    1. Thank you Vronni! Temperatures are still up and down here - currently they're down - but I don't really mind the cold as long is it's dry-ish! xxx

  10. Beautiful inspirations Ann .. I love the red skirt with the sweater with roses .. and what beautiful accessories you have chosen to "color" your outfits. Beautiful brooch with iris! A sweet gift from the talented Monica !!
    Hugs, Carmela

    1. Thank you so much, Carmela! I thought you might appreciate Monica's gifts :-) xxx

  11. It really does feel like "hurry up and wait!" right now, with it being so dark and gloomy and the weather being atrocious. I hope your mood comes back around soon, my dear.

    These outfits raise my spirits! I love the red and green pops in the first outfit, and that gorgeous red skirt. The blue dress (it looks blue to me) is wonderful, and very much is a colour for you. The plaid/tartan jacket in the last outfit is amazing - how did you forget about it??

    Glad you could get out and be in Nature. She is a balm for the weariest soul.

    Hugs to you,

    1. Thank you Sheila! My moods come and go, it seems. I do find this time of year particularly hard. But dressing up and nature are both the greatest pick-me-ups! xxx

  12. Love all your outfits Ann! You have reminded me just how wonderful different patterns, textures and hats can be in an outfit.

    Stay safe and take care. X

  13. what a lovely present from monica! she´s a real wizard on the chrochet hook!
    wonderful red tweed skirt! but the pale blue dress is fab too.... well done with the vintage buttons - so much better. and brillant combo of tartan and floral stripes! trés chic!
    stay warm and safe! xxxxx

    1. Thank you Beate! I'm so glad to have a stash of vintage buttons picked up at charity shops and flea markets. Just replacing its buttons can truly transform a garment! xxx

  14. What a wonderful gift from Monica and the colour is perfect, yellow looks so good on you!
    Boom not only has a wonderful name but looks like a brilliant place to visit and blow a few cobwebs away.
    Lovely outfits as always especially that floral pleated skirt and tweed jacket, my favourite spicy shades! The pinkish red skirt is gorgeous, I'm liking seeing you in a non-print for a change.
    The vintage buttons have transformed that cardi.
    My Grandma used to wear a lot of Fink dresses, she said they were great quality.
    Stay safe! xxx

    1. I was very honoured to receive Monica's gift!
      Boom has a delightful name indeed, if pronounced in the English way. Unfortunately it is pronounced somewhat like the "oa" in coat, and it actually means "tree". xxx

  15. Hibernation sounds nice.. but an impossibility with kids to look after.
    I too am longing for longer days..
    I love that old man tree carving.

    1. Thank you Hena, I can imagine hibernation being an impossibility if one has kids :-) xxx

  16. Just stopping by to wish you a lovely day!

  17. Wonderful Ann, I feel as if I’ve been to a fashion show. You really do have a fantastic wardrobe.
    I need to make more of an attempt at dressing up and taking pics of outfits. Trouble is I’ve got this fabulous bottle green velour lounge suit and I’m never out of it these days as I’m not going anywhere.
    Market day tomorrow so I’ll be making an effort for that xxx

    1. Thank you Lynn, and it was my pleasure entirely! A bottle green velour lounge suit doesn't sound too bad :-) xxx

  18. Oh I love that you were still able to visit the thrift shop and that confetti dress is beautiful! Our opshops closed down over lockdown here, and although most are reopened not all are open as often as they were before - my favourite one sadly is only open on days I'm working! I was hoping to get a chance to browse this week since I'm on Christmas leave but it was too busy, and it's closed now for the Christmas holidays. Next holidays maybe! :)

    It's good that while cold the weather has been nice enough to allow you to get outdoors. I hope that continues!

    Hope that you are having a wonderful Christmas week :)

    Away From The Blue

    1. I'm so glad our charity shops have re-opened, although I still try to avoid them at busy times. Since I'm still only working 2 days a week, it's easy to avoid the weekends! xxx

  19. The sage dress is anything but bland on you, dear Ann. It's downright stunning and compliments your colouring superbly. Very good call on putting it back in the keep pile.

    Autumn Zenith 🧡 Witchcrafted Life

  20. Love the fun and eye-catching colors of your outfits <3

  21. Merry Christmas dear Ann and Jos ♥
    with a very huge hug Tina

  22. That Fink dress is ein great Find! And as for sage green looking bland, no colour could look bland on you because you always find a way to make things look fabulous.

    1. It certainly was, and funnily enough, I found another one just a couple of days later! xxx